I confess that Camp Fusion is one of my favorite events that we do every year in Fusion Student Ministries (thus, the reason I named my camp in Phantom Island after it). I love going in every year wondering whose life will change (and how) by the time its over?? Because it is a guarantee that when we get away from the pressures and stress of our everyday lives and completely focus on God, we become more sensitive to His spirit moving within us. We start to yearn for a Savior, for a Deliverer, for a Daddy. We become aware of the gap between our everyday lives and the intimacy of a real relationship with Jesus.
This year was no exception and while it was not quite as “heavy” and draining as last year’s camp, it was still powerful. I walked away feeling renewed and excited about the future. We had twelve teenagers ask Jesus into their heart for the first time – three of which I got to personally lead through that decision. We had numerous other decisions made — to change some lifestyle habits or attitudes. Our camp theme was EVEN IF… meaning “I will follow Christ, even if….” and then each person was challenged to complete that sentence for themselves. So many times we think of following Christ and pursuing our own faith as “I’ll follow, Jesus, IF you don’t ask me to go to another country … or IF you make sure I’m not poor … or IF my family/boyfriend/friends are okay with it…” That is SUCH the wrong attitude for a truly growing and meaningful relationship with Christ. We should be saying, “Jesus, I follow you EVEN IF I am going to be poor… EVEN IF I am rejected by family and friends… EVEN IF it means leaving my comfort zone and moving where you want me to be.”
I’m not sure when we all got the idea that being a Christian should be a comfortable, unchallenging, cruise-control kind of thing. I have never been more tempted in my life than as an adult to just “settle in” and get comfortable. Isn’t that what young people are always told? “Oh, someday, you’ll settle down with a family and get your white picket fence and then retire with tons of money…” Wow, that is so not the life I’m seeking to live. And it’s certainly not the life Jesus lived. But I’m sure my adult readers can testify to the temptation out there to settle like that. I’m not saying that buckling down and keeping a long-term commitment to a people and a place is wrong. DEFINITELY not. I’m also not saying we should be flighty with our faith or with the God-initiated commitments we make. It often takes MORE work and patience to stay in the same place for awhile and endure the difficult times. But I’m simply saying we shouldn’t say, “I’ll follow you, Jesus, IF I can live comfortably at the same time.” We should always be ready to pick up and go if God says go…
Anyway… the message of not putting conditions on our faith is really what we wanted our students to understand this year and to adopt into their own lives. We took 85 students and a wonderfully flexible and loving handful of adults to Camp Fusion this year. And I’ve decided to list out my personally favorite parts of the week…
1. Tuesday night, I got to sit in on Camron and Jamie’s Red Family Group. Lucas had an “accident” all over Jamie so I stepped in as a female adult leader while she took care of it. Man, was I blown away by how God would use that group that night! It started with Hayley, who admitted to just not being sure what would happen to her when she died and her outspoken questioning about if she had ever accepted Jesus into her heart. (I was shocked – never saw that coming from HER.) So, I don’t know what happened but the Holy Spirit just prompted me to share the Bridge Illustration with the entire group (and I involved several of the kids who knew the illustration well). When I finished, I asked if anyone else wanted to make that decision now that they understood completely what Jesus was all about. Almost immediately Briana’s hand went up and and we were like, “Okay…!” and I asked one more time and suddenly Sydnee’s hand came up to my right (one of my students from Springtown). So we put the three girls in the center of the group and we gathered around them and they prayed right there out loud in front of everyone. It was so clearly not just an emotional decision – these girls listened and understood what they were doing and made a conscious and real choice to follow Jesus. (Afterwards, there were certainly tears involved.) It was a beautiful moment for me personally – I was elated.
2. I have to say that I just adore time spent with my girls. I love cabin time and hanging out and just being “girls.” Every night, I had all these fashion-conscious little sisters who would help accessorize my outfits or fix my hair or tell me how great I looked. I loved ALL the girls in my cabin – every night we would fall asleep to my “Sleepy Playlist” – a combination of classical pieces that soothe and relax a cabin full of girls. I’m telling you — it was like a magic sleeping pill! And every morning I woke them up with “Revelation Song” – nothing like waking up early to beautiful worship music instead of a screeching voice of “GIRLS!! GET UP!!! YOU’RE LATE!!” But I really loved how each evening, we would all sit on the floor in a circle by my bed and pool our “banned” snacks together and munch and laugh and talk about stupid stuff. I also walked around each night that I could and said individual goodnights to each girl in their bed (yes, even tucking some in at their request- ha!) and telling them how much I loved them all. I love being a girl – especially when I heard that the middle school boys went to bed every night thinking up new synonyms for “puke” or “fart.” Ahhh, I’ll take my Sleepy Playlist and gab sessions over that. Haha.
3. Thursday, I decided to do the zip line with some of my campers – and I ended up getting to spend some time with the younger kids – the new 7th graders that will be moving into our youth group this summer. They have such a sweetness about them and we definitely all shared a love for adventure and thrills! I have to admit that there are few things out there that I’m afraid to do. But when I got up that ladder and realized I would have to CLIMB THE TREE the rest of the way, I was a little nervous. I mean, fat girl climbing a tree is not always a pretty picture and the fact that I had worn shoes with NO traction created the perfect storm for a disaster. I remember looking down at my little middle school kids going, “I’m not sure I can do this!!” (And kind of manically laughing about it.) Yet, there was nowhere to go but UP. The thought of trying to get back down was even more terrifying. But the kids were so encouraging – “Keep going, Krissi!! You can do it – it’s not as hard as it seems!” With their chants in my head, and the flash of the camera going off (which made wonderful photos later of my rear end) I made it up the tree! Zipping down was easy compared to the climb. And I was pouring sweat, but it was exhilarating.
4. Thursday night after the service, we gave everyone the opportunity to stand up and share out loud their EVEN IF statements… this was something the kids were not prepped on ahead of time and it was not required of them to share. But, oh my gosh, some of the most sincere and bold statements came out of their mouths and it was SO touching. While they shared, I began recording their initials in blacklight pens on our EVEN IF banner so we can light it up later and see all the names and remember the commitments made. There is no way to adequately describe what was said that night – but students and adults alike shared and I will always treasure that memory. My EVEN IF statement went like this… “I will follow Christ EVEN IF my book bombs AND EVEN IF it does well. No matter the success or failure or pressure, I choose to follow Christ.”